Sell Books


Selling Your Books Here is Easy


Do you have books to sell? Bring them in between 11am and 4pm, Monday through Saturday.

No appointment is necessary, though on Saturdays in July or December, you might want to call and make sure there isn't a waiting line.

We'll go through the books while you wait, select the ones we'd like to purchase, and make an offer promptly. Please allow ten minutes per box, more for unusual or very old books.

If you are selling a collection or are not able to bring your books in to the shop, you may call and have us visit your library on a Sunday. Available Sundays are limited; please call at least a week in advance.

We stock a wide variety of books, but we do not purchase:

- Former library books
- Condensed or abridged books
- Encyclopedias or magazines
- Romance novels
- Books with water damage, mold, broken binding, or missing covers or pages.

Thank you for sorting your books in advance.

We offer cash payments or store credit. The offer we make will be based on condition, scarcity, and demand. We do pay more for books in better condition, books in subject areas we are looking to expand, and books our patrons particularly like. We can make both cash and credit offers, but we do not make partial cash/partial credit offers. We cannot make offers for books we have not seen, though if you have a certain type of book, do feel free to call and ask whether that is something we are interested in buying. See below for current interests.

We do not carry new books. If you are an author or publisher looking to place your books with an independent bookshop in Iowa City, please contact Prairie Lights. Besides being nationally famous and a major Iowa City destination, they carry all new books and so can sell your books on terms profitable to both of you. Congratulations on your publication from us, all the same!

We are not currently visiting collections outside the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. We apologize for the inconvenience.

What We Want Most Right Now


Academic philosophy, eastern religions (especially Buddhism and Shinto), nature and ecology, Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance history, Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans issues, books in Latin, ancient Greek, and Spanish, mythology and folklore, classic and contemporary poetry.

We are always interested in well-written books, whether fiction or nonfiction, and we buy academic work, though not undergraduate textbooks. We particularly love essays about nature, books on writing, sciences, all religions, art history, award-winning and classic literature, poetry, and plays, books about Iowa, graphic novels, world history, military history, political science and economics, gift-quality children's books (fiction and nonfiction, picture books and chapter books), young adult fiction (not supernatural romance).

We do not buy textbooks, hardcover mystery novels, romance, westerns, manga series, teen vampire books, self help, motivation & inspiration, current events prior to 2012, travel guides, magazines, newspapers, books published by magazine companies (Reader's Digest, Time-Life, Better Homes & Gardens), audio books, movies, CDs, vinyl records, cassette tapes, used board/card games, antique toys / lamps / boxes / pins.

We do buy old books, but we are extremely selective about condition and subject matter. Please note that "old" here means books printed before 1935 ("antiquarian" means before 1885); the condition must be clean, with all pages intact, and the binding must be secure; no unreasonable dustiness, odor, page tears or missing pages, loose sections, or broken or missing covers. If there are insects, mouse droppings, etc., in the box, we will not make an offer. We are interested in a range of subjects, especially science, history, Latin, Greek, early children's books, and other illustrated books, but please bear in mind that there are subjects and books that we don't want because they are common, not as interesting to our patrons, or reprint editions made with materials that will not age well and thus are not valuable as investments.

Book Credit

If you are bringing in books for sale or trade, we can offer you book credit as payment. We usually offer more in credit than we would in cash. Credit can be applied toward the purchase of any books in the store, and sales tax does not apply to credit purchases. (Credit can only be applied to book purchases, i.e., not cards, toys, etc., because of tax rules.)

Credit need not be spent immediately, and setting up an account is quick and easy. (We do not share account information with anyone except the account owner(s), so it's also hassle-free.) You can designate other people (partners, family members, friends) to share your account. Credit can also be converted to gift certificates, but cannot be converted to cash.

Working with our community

Our bookshop neighbors
We're good friends with the other independent bookstores in Iowa City, and we're pleased to give you directions to their fine establishments.

Our ongoing benefit sale
Iowa City's Free Medical Clinic offers expert, non-judgmental, free medical care to those in need in our community. Every penny you spend to buy books from our Benefit Sale shelves - $1.00 for hardcovers, 50 cents for paperbacks - goes directly to this outstanding nonprofit group. We don't believe in that vague "proceeds of" stuff.

Local groups we support
We believe that locally-owned businesses are best able to provide goods and services to match their communities' needs, so we are proud to be part of Iowa City's Shop Locally campaign.

Recycling
Recycling actively is one of the ways that we work to help our environment. Our books are used, carefully cleaned and repaired for your reuse, and we make every effort to keep our sourcing, operations, and disposal as green as possible. We can help you to find the best way to dispose responsibly of your used bookshelves, magazines, papers, or damaged books. Ask us for details.

Our community message boards
In the foyer and in the hall are local postings about events, groups, pets, jobs, housing, and more. Also, stop here to pick up your copy of the free monthly magazines Little Village, Radish, and Iowa Source, excellent publications about Iowa food, arts, and events.

Enjoy our space!

We welcome book groups, study groups, tutors and students, and community organizations to use our dining room for meetings. Our spacious, shady porch is also available for spontaneous picnics or planned gatherings in good weather. Contact us for more information.

Just want a quiet place to read? We have plenty of tucked-away, comfortable chairs (though you might have to share yours with a cat).

Young folks sometimes practice on our piano, and we are always delighted when musicians come to play.
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